While the initiative for medical marijuana is now officially on the ballot for November, there is still the crucial matter of gaining 60 percent of the vote to become state law. General consensus is that younger voters will be integral in deciding if the constitutional amendment becomes a reality. Mindful of this, Creative Loafing spoke to several students at the University of South Florida in an attempt to check the pulse of the issue.
The verdict? Medical marijuana receives nearly unanimous support by our own unscientific survey. While there was some fear of abuse of the laws, most figured that a well regulated rollout of medicinal marijuana could be hugely beneficial for those suffering. Student Maranda Thompson's personal experience with her mother's use of medical marijuana encouraged her support.
“I know a lot of people that use it for medical purposes. My mother, she passed away in 2008, and right before she passed away they diagnosed her with Fibromyalgia. It was so bad that without the medical marijuana she couldn't get out of bed.I asked the gentleman who did her autopsy if marijuana contributed to her death and he told me 'I've been doing this for more than 22 years and I've never had anyone end up on my slab because of a marijuana overdose.'”
When asked why it has taken so long for the issue to reach the political mainstream, the responses consisted mostly of references to a generation gap in the perception of marijuana.
“I think people who are against it are just very old fashioned in their way of thinking,” said Alexas Beaudoin. “I don't think they see all the benefits that it could have to people that are have illnesses and there's a real close mindedness about that. Once it's legal maybe those people can see its effects and change their minds about it.”
While not on the ballot, it's impossible to not associate success in the legalization of medical marijuana with the potential of outright legalization in the coming years. A recent Quinnipiac poll that showed Floridians narrowly favored legalization, 48% to 46% opposed. On campus, legalization received a much more positive outlook, with students seeing it as beneficial to both society and the economy.
“It would be good in general,” said Daphne Wallace. “It would keep the crime rates down because so many people go to jail for something as frivolous as carrying a little bit on them and I will feel it would be a good way to stimulate the economy.”
Potential issues consisted of the risk of abuse and possible poor regulation, along with some sarcastic complaints about privately owned prisons being left empty.
On November fourth, Florida will find out if this support will translate at the polls.